May 14, 2020 I Operations
Taylor Guitars Launches Urban Wood Initiative
Taylor Guitars has announced the launch of an urban wood guitar initiative. Developed in partnership with West Coast Arborists, the initiative gives select trees in need of removal from California cities a second life as high-value instruments. The first urban wood species to be featured in the Taylor guitar line is Urban Ash, used for the back and sides of Taylor’s new Builder’s Edition 324ce guitar.
According to Taylor, the initiative explores the “urban forest” — the planned and managed tree canopies that provide the green infrastructure of cities and neighborhoods. Historically, trees in urban areas in California have either been turned into low-value products like firewood or mulch or taken to a landfill.
Taylor’s partner on the initiative, West Coast Arborists, provides tree services to more than 300 municipalities and public agencies across California and Arizona — including Taylor’s headquarters in El Cajon, California. Each year, WCA plants between 18,000 to 20,000 new trees. It also remove trees when requested by a city, transporting them to log yards across the state to facilitate disposal.
WGA invited Taylor to evaluate its inventory of urban wood species from their log yards to determine if any would make instrument-grade tonewoods. After building prototype guitars with a handful of species, Andy Powers, Taylor’s master guitar designer, selected Shamel ash, better known as tropical or evergreen ash. “This ash species happens to be a great mix of the right weight, density, dimensional stability and drying attributes, and responds well to sawing, sanding and finishing,” Powers said. “In almost every physical way I can measure it, it’s reminiscent of really good Honduran mahogany.”
Taylor’s Director of Natural Resource Sustainability Scott Paul commented on something not surprising but unique to working with wood from trees removed from cities. “Sometimes there [are] nails or fencing laminates or chunks of metal in these trees,” he said. “It’s not uniformly grown, like corn. If somebody put up a lost dog sign or ‘I’m selling my van’ in 1972, when that tree comes down, if it’s Shamel ash, we have to be aware of that nail or whatever. We can work around it, but it’s new and it’s different and it’s an additional expense as well.”